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Boulevard Fitness closes after city attorney threatens daily fines

Posted at 1:59 PM, Aug 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-27 17:08:47-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Boulevard Fitness in University Heights has closed its doors following a letter from the city threatening expensive fines and to force the business to close.

The gym stayed open in the face of local coronavirus-related restrictions on indoor activities for fitness centers for more than a month, according to a letter from City Attorney Mara Elliott.

"To date, evidence we have reviewed shows your business has been out of compliance for more than 45 days. If our office chooses to remedy the violation by pursuing an unfair business practices action, you and your business could be subject to fines of $2,500 a day for each violation and orders to close," Elliott's letter on Tuesday stated.

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In a letter sent to the gym's members on Wednesday, Boulevard Fitness said it has temporarily closed "due to current fiscal situations."

"We are not sure when this closure period will end but we will be [sic] continuously monitor this and update you when appropriate," the gym's letter read. "However, we are working closely with our legal counsel to get in compliance with public health orders so that we can open up again soon."

Boulevard Fitness owner Shawn Gilbert told ABC 10News back in July that staying open is a matter of survival.

"I took a huge financial hit in May. Money out of my pocket that's never coming back. We have bills to pay, we have rent to pay,” Gilbert told ABC 10News. He added that he believed his gym can operate indoors safely with face coverings and distancing, and that he has an outdoor area he plans to utilize.

The gym on El Cajon Boulevard had been limiting the number of people inside and increasing cleaning and other measures to try to limit the risk of spreading the virus.

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This month, ABC 10News analyzed data from 211 revealed the gym was among businesses that have received the most complaints from the public about health order violations, with 141 complaints at the time.

In a follow-up to ABC 10News, Elliott said the gym was contacted several times by San Diego Police officers and given warnings and citations by the county. This is reportedly the first case of its kind referred to the City Attorney's office.

"For more than a month, Boulevard Fitness ignored the county's orders to stop endangering the health of its members and the public. My office stepped in and got quick compliance the same way we did with the Banker's Hill party house -- by laying out the fines and penalties we could seek if they continued breaking the law, " Elliott said. "The spread of COVID is a problem that my office takes seriously."

San Diego County officials are still awaiting guidance on reopening from the state after the region was removed from the California Monitoring List last week.